Ten days after the expression of interest call for a ship on which to isolate irregular immigrants, Television Malta is informed the Government has received 15 offers. The call was closed at noon last Monday and now the Government will be screening the tenders through the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The use of this vessel is intended for situations when the Armed Forces of Malta have no choice but to rescue drowning persons. This after the Government recently stepped up its efforts to stop the arrival of irregular immigrants to Malta, inter alia with a coordination center in Libya and another in Malta and through another agreement reached this week with Turkey and the Government of National Unity in Libya, so that the guard of the The Libyan coast will be equipped to fight human trafficking.
Numbers obtained by TVM show that from the beginning of August, the Libyan Coast Guard intercepted almost 7,000 irregular immigrants who tried to make their way to Malta, including 6,010 men, 474 women and 364 minors. It is estimated that about half of the people rescued eventually drowned or ended up in the rescue area of Malta. The choice between life and death in the Mediterranean is the ongoing reality reinforced by legal and international obligations that do not distinguish between a pandemic and normalcy.
Amid this backdrop, the Maltese government felt that there should also be the option of using a vessel to better protect and manage the situation. Accordingly, the irregular immigrants who arrived in recent weeks were immediately isolated regardless of whether they tested positive for Covid-19 and in addition the government opened a clinic in Ħal Far which was entrusted to the Red Cross. Since the recent arrivals, a total of 104 immigrants have tested positive for the virus.